Communication—When Things Go Wrong

Communication is often regarded as a complex tool that we use on a daily basis to create clear expectations, increase productivity, and manage multiple work styles. However, what tools can we adopt when things go wrong? 

Fostering productive communication in the workplace is necessary if leadership hopes to have employees that can work together multiple times. Creating a positive space to foster effective communication in times of crisis is a large part of that success.

Identify the issue—remaining silent or avoiding an issue will only prolong the difficulties and may increase the impact that issue may have on the overall completion of objectives. It is important to bring issues to light in a supportive, team environment. Assessment without confrontation is imperative.    

Take responsibility—there may be underlying causes, or external factors, but pointing fingers solves nothing and only wastes time. Investigating causes should occur as you move forward in the resolution process. The willingness to be accountable invites trust and confidence.

Don’t be defensive—it is normal to bristle when a finger is seemingly pointed in your direction. However, constructive solutions happen when all members of the process work together to find a resolution. Defensiveness can slow down or even hinder this process.

Pinpoint problems without blame—investigating an issue is important to find a resolution and create future plans to prevent the occurrence. However, pointing fingers and putting others on the defense will only create an environment of disconnect and hinder future teamwork. The point of resolving an issue is to foster growth. It is important to remember that some underlying causes can be out of the control of any one person or group of people.

Provide support—in finding the cause, set the right tone immediately. A predetermined bias is easily conveyed through tone, so remember to approach the situation calmly and with an open mind. Reaffirm that all members of the team or department are there to support the resolution. Trainings and interventions can be initiated without creating a confrontational work environment. Do not avoid difficult conversations. 

Create action plans/learning from mistakes—review the issue, the cause, and the resolution. Summarize for staff and leadership how this can be prevented in the future. Did staff require training? Was communication effective? Was leadership available? Were deadlines and objectives clear and obtainable? Did the staff/team feel they were part of the solution?

Whether you’re a manager, team leader, team member, or department employee, effective communication is one small facet that affects everyone greatly. Approaching any situation with an open mind and self-awareness can increase the value you bring into that moment. Those that cannot communicate through a crisis create a negative impact and lasting impression.

Originally posted LinkedIn Pulse


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